11. Action Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Lowenstein) to Secretary of State Vance1

Unveiling of U.S. Policy for the Eastern Mediterranean: Next Steps

Issue for Decision

We need to decide what strategy to follow with respect to our policies in the Eastern Mediterranean now that the Vienna round of Cyprus intercommunal talks has taken place.


Based on reports to date, it seems clear that both the Turkish and Greek Cypriots have met their basic commitments to Clark Clifford, i.e., the Turks tabled a constitutional proposal, the Greeks put forward a territorial proposal in the form of a map, and some substantive discussion of these proposals took place in Vienna.2 While both proposals were clearly inadequate and were held to be unacceptable by the other side, they appear to have been seriously worked out and put forward in good faith, and represented some minimal advance from past substantive positions. The Vienna meetings were used to exchange views on the proposals, although neither side retreated from its respective opening positions which are far apart. The parties are expected to meet again for another round in Nicosia next month. However, Archbishop Makarios’ illness and the pending June election in Turkey will probably make important concessions impossible in the next few weeks.

Continued United States support and involvement will be needed at every step if any early positive results are to be achieved. The presence of a U.S. observer in Vienna was welcomed and appreciated by the U.N. as well as both parties. A continued U.S. role is regarded as essential by all concerned. The Turkish Foreign Minister observer in Vienna even went so far as to suggest a future Cyprus negotiating procedure to replace the intercommunal talks which would have Greece, Turkey, the UK, and U.S. all at the table together with the Greek Cypriots and [Page 55] Turkish Cypriots. The Cypriot Ambassador here asked Clark Clifford to consider more active U.S. involvement.

A comment should be made about the parties’ proposals. The Turkish Cypriot constitutional proposal, if implemented, would create a government that resembles a confederation more than a federation. This is not acceptable to the Greek Cypriots. Clearly the central government must be given more authority. The Greek Cypriot territorial proposal is not really bizonal (it has two zones and two enclaves, which meet at a “federal” road-junction) and gives inadequate territory to the Turkish zone. Clearly, the Turkish zone must be expanded. However, our summary view is that the results of Vienna, while hardly a breakthrough, were probably about all that could realistically have been expected at this stage. Due largely to Clark Clifford’s discussions and energetic U.S. follow-up, a process has at least been started.

In considering our future strategy, these additional factors should also be borne in mind:

A. Regardless of what flows from their proposal in Vienna, the Turks will expect something positive from the Administration since they lived up to their commitment to put a constitutional proposal on the table, and to negotiate in good faith. Continued silence by the Administration after Vienna will be seen in Ankara as proof that Washington is unreliable or has chosen pro-Greek policies. Such an approach may lead to a negative Turkish reaction to future Cyprus talks. Insisting upon a total solution to Cyprus before aid levels are established runs grave risks in the highly charged US-Turkish relationship, affecting important NATO interests.

B. Given the approaching June Turkish elections, a breakthrough toward a Cyprus settlement cannot be expected in May or June, although a process of constructive discussion should be sustainable.

C. To comply with a tight legislative schedule, the Congress must receive Administration recommendations on the FY 1978 military assistance package by the time it returns from Easter recess on April 18.

D. The Greek and Cypriot Governments can be expected to be disappointed with any Administration recommendations for increased levels of military sales credits to Turkey for FY 1978.

E. US-Greek negotiations on the Greek DCA are due to resume April 13. Karamanlis clearly wants to move Greece back to closer integration into NATO and wants to stabilize the US-Greek bilateral security relationship. By early May it should be possible to determine whether the Greeks will move quickly to complete these negotiations with the U.S. or whether they will drag their feet until they come to realize that the Administration will support Congressional approval at some point of the Turkish-US Defense Cooperation Agreement.

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F. Difficulties in the Aegean traditionally increase seasonally in the spring and summer; this is likely to happen shortly, thus taking the spotlight off Cyprus as far as the Greeks and Turks are concerned. We do not want to link these two problem areas. Studies are underway regarding how the USG might help defuse or resolve the complex of Aegean disputes. We will be back to you on this later.

Bearing these factors in mind, we would suggest the following scenario:

Suggested Scenario

A. Announce, through backgrounder or answer to press question, that in our view while the Vienna talks did not lead to a breakthrough, they had positive aspects, and that the Turkish Government and Makarios had responded positively to Clifford requests.3

B. Have the Administration endorse Clifford’s recommendations in whole or in part by indicating to key members of Congress and then publicly that the Administration (i) endorses, in principle, the Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement (although making it clear that we will not press Congress for a vote at this time); (ii) recommends $175 million in Foreign Military Sales financing in FY 1978 compared with $125 million in FY 1977 and $200 million in the Ford Administration’s budget presentation;4 and (iii) urges removal of some or all restraints on FMS cash purchases by Turkey.5

The last of these will be the most controversial. Our assessment is that with strong Administration backing, Congress would approve the package, but after a fight. It might be possible to work out a compromise permitting cash purchases of certain named items, such as the F–4’s, or a raising of the ceiling on FMS cash purchases to accommodate certain Turkish purchases.

C. Couple announcement on US-Turkish military assistance policy with support for military assistance to Greece in FY 1978 at the DCA level. (A total of $175 million of which $35 million is grant assistance and the remainder FMS credits and guaranties.6

D. Make renewed effort to get the Greek base negotiations concluded, pointing out that we favor such defense cooperation agree[Page 57]ments with our allies and wish to stabilize our security relationship with Greece as a means of helping resolve problems in the Eastern Mediterranean. Negotiations resume in Athens on April 13.7

E. Ask Clark Clifford to testify on the Hill on behalf of the Administration’s policy for Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. He has indicated a willingness to do so. Prior to public announcement of our proposal, a meeting should be held with the Greek interest group, and with other Congressional leaders, to explain the Administration’s position.8

F. Consider messages (letters from you or Clifford, or messages through the Ambassadors) to Makarios and Demirel expressing appreciation for the constructive beginning made in Vienna and urging that concrete negotiations be continued in Nicosia in May.9

G. Have Clifford and Nimetz consult with UN Secretary General Waldheim to indicate our continued support for his role, our desire to keep in close touch with him, and our interest in receiving his ideas on what we could usefully do to help advance prospects for an eventual settlement.10

H. Begin substantive diplomatic efforts promptly after the Vienna talks conclude to ascertain how the parties view continued U.S. involvement and where the positions of the parties on territory and constitutional structure are open to compromise. This can probably be done in Nicosia by our Embassy, but may also require a working-level trip to the Island. We should privately make clear to the parties that their substantive proposals left a lot to be desired. We will also have to keep in mind that the June 5 Turkish elections and Makarios’ ill-ness will place limits over the next two–three months on what can be accomplished.11

I. Engage Prime Minister Karamanlis and Prime Minister Demirel in substantive discussions in London at the NATO Summit. This can be done at the President’s bilateral meetings with both leaders and at follow-up sessions with the Prime Ministers and the Foreign Ministers. Clark Clifford has indicated that he is available, and believes it would be useful, to be present in London to assist in these discussions—he developed excellent personal relationships with Karamanlis and Demirel.12

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J. Be alert to renewed tensions on Aegean issues and indicate to both parties our willingness to be helpful while continuing to urge them to exercise caution and to attempt to work out their differences directly. Our studies should be concluded by then and we will have some substantive ideas.


That you approve the above scenario to be implemented beginning the week of April 11.13

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Congressional Relations, Subject Files and Chrons 1977/78/79/80, Files of Assistant Secretary J. Brian Atwood, Lot 81D115, Box 4, Greece/Turkey/Cyprus. Confidential. Drafted by Ledsky and Ewing on April 5; sent through Nimetz on April 6; cleared by Gerald Helman (IO/UNP), Atwood, and Richard Ericson (PM).
  2. The meetings concluded on April 7. See footnote 3, Document 38.
  3. Vance approved recommendation A on April 8. Jacklyn Cahill, one of the Secretary’s special assistants, confirmed his approval on April 8 by initialing and date-stamping on his behalf. Vance underlined “did not lead to a breakthrough,” and wrote, referring to the Vienna talks, “I would play it down still more.”
  4. Vance approved recommendations B(i) and B(ii).
  5. In the margin next to recommendation B(iii), Vance wrote a question mark and neither approved nor disapproved the recommendation.
  6. Vance approved recommendation C.
  7. Vance approved recommendation D.
  8. Vance approved recommendation E.
  9. Vance approved recommendation F and wrote “Clark” in a space for “By Whom.”
  10. Vance approved recommendation G.
  11. Vance underlined “left a lot to be desired” and wrote “yes” in the right-hand margin. He approved recommendation H.
  12. Vance disapproved the recommendation “Ask Clifford to come to London” and wrote in the margin, “There won’t be enuf time in the meeting to warrant a trip by Clark.”
  13. Vance approved the scenario.